"John Lewis Christmas Commercial Sparks Controversy Amidst Festive TV Ads, Thanks to Venus Flytrap"

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"John Lewis Christmas Commercial Sparks Controversy Amidst Festive TV Ads, Thanks to Venus Flytrap"
Written by Charlotte McDonald & Noor Nanji

Even though November is still young, Christmas television commercials are already starting to appear on our screens, adding a festive touch.

The most recent well-known brand to broadcast its holiday greeting into UK households is John Lewis.

The commercial, which debuted on Thursday, narrates the story of a young child and a gigantic Venus flytrap.

Social media users' opinions varied, with some labeling it "scary" and others thinking it provided some light relief.

When someone inquired whether someone in the John Lewis design staff had "basically watched Little Shop of Horrors" before pitching for this year's ad, they were alluding to the musical about a murderous plant. Another user on X called the advertisement "a disappointment."

Still others, on the other hand, expressed gratitude for the advertisement's ability to provide hope during a trying period.The company had "asked for something that moved us on from last year and was different," according to Charlotte Lock, customer director at John Lewis, who spoke with the BBC.

It will "be hoping the theme of family values works," according to retail analyst Catherine Shuttleworth.

"Glitz, fame, and fun are the overarching themes in this year's Christmas advertisements," Ms. Shuttleworth continued. Instead, John Lewis has chosen to advocate for a contemporary family Christmas. See whether it functions.The commercial features a young child named Alfie planting his own Christmas tree, only to discover that it develops into a carnivorous Venus flytrap named Snapper. Festa is a song recorded by opera legend Andrea Bocelli.

However, his family finally comes around to the notion of a new custom, and they even enlist Snapper's assistance in opening their gifts on Christmas morning.

This year's advertisement emphasizes family and changing customs, while the previous year's was more subdued to represent the difficulties caused by the rising expense of living.

"It's not the tradition itself that matters, it's how it brings together families and loved ones," said Ms Lock.

Star strength

Numerous other retailers have made significant investments in hiring well-known figures to represent their brands.

The A-list celebrities starring in this year's advertisements range from Sophie Ellis-Bextor to Michael Bublé and Rick Astley.

Celebrities "have cultural currency," according to Sascha Darroch-Davies, co-founder of creative music agency DLMDD, who noted that many have chosen them.

"Taking chances isn't very common during the holidays. "Using celebrities is a tried-and-true formula," he told the BBC. It's a challenging moment for retailers. Many people are having difficulty. They are aware that it's usually a safe wager.

In the M&S Christmas advertisement, Sophie Ellis-Bextor

In the M&S clothes advertisement, Sophie Ellis-Bextor does away with Christmas customs.

With its Christmas food advertisement, Marks and Spencer hit the mark right away. Dawn French makes a comeback as a cheerful fairy.

Alongside her are actors from Hollywood who play 'the Mittens' in the six-part campaign, Rob McElhenney and Ryan Reynolds, co-chairmen of Wrexham football club.

The three dance around the home until coming to rest on a table in the dining room that is heaving from the weight of an M&S Christmas feast.

Well-known actors Zawe Ashton and Hannah Waddingham, Queer Eye host Tan France, and singer Sophie Ellis-Bextor are among the celebrities featured in M&S's Christmas apparel and home advertisement.

While John Lewis advocates for altering customs, the advertisement from M&S proposes that individuals should discard any Christmas customs they no longer find meaningful.

But M&S was compelled to issue an apology after several people pointed out that an outtake from the advertisement, which featured red, green, and silver caps burning in a fireplace, looked like the colors of the Palestinian flag.

The business took down the image that it had shared on Instagram, stating that the advertisement was shot in August, prior to the start of the most recent Israel-Gaza war.

There are many who argue that scandals are inconsequential and might even benefit a business by generating conversation about their advertisement. The chief strategy officer of the creative firm M&C Saatchi, Sophie Lewis, isn't convinced.

She said, "I don't think controversy at Christmas is ever advisable," to the BBC. "And I do not think for one second that M&S were courting it in the case of the ad they pulled, and then re-edited."

Time will tell, according to Ms. Lewis, whether and how much the row has impacted M&S.

Michael Bublé in a spotlight wearing a black suit

In the Asda commercial, singer Michael Bublé adopts a new character.

In other news, Bublé is the star of this year's Asda commercial after being defrosted for the holiday.

As Asda's top quality officer, the crooner makes all the major decisions about what the country should eat for Christmas.

Social media users' opinions were largely positive, with several expressing amazement that Bublé could act in addition to sing. However, others thought the advertisement was insufficient given Elf's previous year's success.

Rick Astley at a grocery aisle at Sainsbury's.

This year's Sainsbury's commercial features pop sensation Rick Astley as the face.

Not to be outdone, Sainsbury's teams up actual supermarket employees with iconic 1980s actor Rick Astley to discuss what Santa would serve for Christmas dinner.

It caps off an incredible year for Astley, who made his festival debut in June at Glastonbury, leading a crowd in choruses to some of his greatest hits.

The musician became well-known online thanks to the Rickrolling phenomenon, which tricks people into clicking on irrelevant links in order to be taken to his hit song Never Gonna Give You Up.

On the TikTok app, the hashtag #RickAstley has had over 716 million views.

"Winning over shoppers' hearts and minds is quite challenging in the cost of living crisis so you've got to really find a way to make a people smile," said Shuttleworth.

"Rick Astley and Bublé succeed in that. These advertisements succeed in making people enthusiastic about Christmas."

Argos' Christmas advertisement features the toy couple Connie and Trevor.

Argos' Christmas advertisement features the toy couple Connie and Trevor.

This year's Christmas advertisements don't all include a famous cast.

Trevor the dinosaur and Connie the doll are the cartoon characters that Argos has chosen above celebrities.

Additionally, Lidl has adopted the tried-and-true strategy of enlisting a furry friend—a Christmastime favorite for merchants. In the commercial, a raccoon goes above and beyond to brighten a young boy's day.

"Making History on TV"

Based on new figures from the Advertising Association and World Advertising Research Centre, advertisers will spend a record £9.5 billion this holiday season overall.

Cultural historian Dorothy Hobson thinks it's "impossible" to predict whether it would pay off in terms of drawing in new business.

"But companies would not waste the vast sums of money they spend on making the ads and buying the air space if they were not getting a good return on their outlays," she stated to the BBC.

She stated that retailers are walking a tightrope. Since their Christmas advertisements are prepared months in advance, it's critical that they don't convey the incorrect vibe when they depict the realities of their target audience's daily lives.

Ads that demonstrate empathy and concern for others tend to stay in safe area for this reason. They have the potential to become a significant cultural moment if they do it well.

"They have become a cultural genre in their own right, which means that they are fulfilling their function by making us look forward to them and talk about them," said Ms Hobson.

"And if they are good, they become part of the history of television."